Fire eel

The fire eel (mastacembelus erythrotaenia) is a freshwater fish. It belongs to the family of spiny eels and is classified among the gill slit eel species (Synbranchiformes). It is native to lightly flowing waters in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia. The fire-spiny eel, which can reach a length of up to one metre, can also be found in floodplains in these regions.

What distinguishes the fire eel?

This colourful representative of the spiny eel is not for beginners. The new owner should already have some experience in keeping freshwater fish. Although this eel species is a predator, it is more of a calm temperament.

The appearance of the fire eel

The body of the fire eel is elongated, flattened at the sides and the head tapers to a point. Its base colour is dark and varies from black to dark brown. It has four red longitudinal lines from head to front body. Then red round or elongated spots dominate. The fins have a red edge. Exceptions are the dorsal and anal fins. These have a white edge. In some specimens the colouring of the lines can change from red to yellowish.


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Housing conditions

The fire eel can be kept in a small group of three or more animals. It is also possible to socialize with other peaceful freshwater inhabitants. The roommates should only be adapted to the size of the eel (predators). The following conditions are necessary for keeping:

  • Fresh water
  • Aquarium length for younger animals 150 cm
  • Aquarium length for adult animals 250 cm
  • dense planting (java fern)
  • Hiding places (stone, root)
  • open swim space
  • Aquarium floor with sand

Gender differences

On the basis of the coloring one does not find differences between the sexes. An exact determination of the sexes can only be made at an adult age.

Water values for the fire eel

The following water characteristics are necessary for the species-appropriate keeping of the fire eel:

  • Temperature: 22 to 28 °C
  • pH value: 6,0 to 7,5
  • Total water hardness: 5 to 15 °dGH and 3 to 10 °dKH

Feed and nutrition of fire eels

The fire eel is a predator and feeds in nature on small crabs, worms, fish and insect larvae. In the aquarium you should offer this carnivore live food. The food size must be adapted to the size of the eel. Sometimes they like to take frozen food such as Artemia, smaller crabs and Tubifex. The fire eel is considered an omnivore. However, the preferences of the individual may differ from the norm. This eel is active at dusk and at night. Feeding times should take this into account.

The ideal aquarium for the fire eel

The sociable fire eel feels comfortable in a small group. The aquarium size must be adapted to the body dimensions of the animal. With an adapted tank size, the fire eel can reach one metre body length in captivity, just like in the wild. It can live out its preference for hiding by dense green planting and caves made of roots or stone as well as clay tubes. It likes to dig itself partially into the ground. For this he needs a sandy soil (no gravel). Despite the dense planting, there must be a sufficient free swimming area. The aquarium should be well covered so that the fire eel cannot escape.


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Special features of the fire eel

The fire prick eel sometimes develops a “relationship” with its regular feeder. This can be seen by the fact that he lets himself be fed from the hand.

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